May is Mental Health Awareness month, and we’d like to take time to reinforce the message that happiness is one of the main components of mental health.
Good mental health allows kids to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. While it’s quite easy to identify the child’s physical needs (nutritious food, warm clothes, bedtime at a reasonable time), pinning down their emotional needs is not as easy, especially if you are a first-time parent. Here are 3 things we’d like to share with you that will help you create a positive and happy environment for your kids, one that is filled with inspiration, wonder, and joy.
Remember the good old days before smartphones and tablets when kids went outside and explored nature? Having to stay inside to do homework felt like punishment and the best thing in the world was letting your imagination run wild together with the kids next door, building forts, climbing trees, catching bugs, and playing tag. While there are tons of benefits of living in the age of technology and innovation, research shows that unstructured, unhurried playtime (preferably outdoors) is essential for children’s learning and growth. Here are some of the skills that kids pick up during playtime: teamwork, sharing, negotiation skills, conflict resolution, behavior and emotion management, and speaking up for themselves.
In fact, kids don’t need as many structured activities as we think they do. Now that the school’s out for summer, you don’t need to obsess over being the entertainer for your kids and doing 101 Pinterest crafts with them in the upcoming weeks. Try to budget more time for your kids to just get outside and simply play!
Adults tend to view childhood as a happy and carefree time. After all, kids don’t have to pay the bills, so what could they possibly have to worry about? There’s actually plenty of things! Even very young children have worries and feel stressed out to some degree. Preschoolers may suffer from separation anxiety. Older kids are under academic and social pressure. Remember the struggles of middle school? Well, not much has changed, fitting in is still pretty stressful. You can’t solve every problem your child will experience as they go through life, but you can teach them healthy coping strategies. That way, you’ll prepare them to manage the stresses that come their way in the future.
How happy you are, affects how happy and successful your kids are. You are your child’s role model #1, and while it’s a huge responsibility, it’s also a great opportunity to instill healthy habits and the joy of living in your little ones. Be kind to yourself and “put your oxygen mask on first.” If you’re happy, you’ll be able to take better care of your family.